Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

Getting dirty in Pest

Buda, Pest, and Old Buda merged in 1873 to form the modern Budapest. I took these shots while wandering around the streets of Pest.

Bus seat graffiti

Bus Seat Graffiti

Here’s the nostalgia tram, where (for 400 Forints) you can ride in style like they used to. Note: I don’t recommend trying to stand while this thing is moving – it’s not exactly as smooth as Munich’s S-Bahn. But it was free of graffiti, unlike the Pest buses.

Budapest Nostalgia Tram

This was floating in a small carnival by a children’s park for a few minutes before some thoughtful old man took it down. On the side, in Hungarian, it reads “Size does matter.”

Balloon Penis

This statue cracked me up. So regal in the last golden rays of the setting sun… except for his cap.

Horse, rider, pigeon decoration

Next post, back to the beautiful side of Budapest.

Posted 6 years, 5 months ago at 9:09 am.

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Budapest Streets

Those long familiar with the blog might remember some prior posts about street photography. Candid photos of city denizens and visitors tell you a lot about what the place is like! Take this woman agonizing over what to buy in the farmers’ market:

Budapest Farmers' Market - Fruit

From afar it really looked like we were about to enter a field in the middle of the city. I guess a few hundred years ago this might have been the view.

Painted building in Budapest

The couple and the single… who is happier?

Couple and Single

We must have watched this dog playing in and around the fountain pool for half an hour. Finally I got the shot I’d been waiting for!

Dog in mid-dive

No comment required on this last one. All in all, it was a beautiful day of sun, photos, sights, and frisbee on the streets and in the parks of Budapest.

Non-still-life: boy with dog and tweeties

Posted 6 years, 5 months ago at 7:42 pm.

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Verona at Night

When I arrived in Verona with a friend, the first thing we found was a lingerie fashion show in the central square. Verona is one happenin’ city! I’m going to have to pore over those photos… maybe I can find one or two that are (ahem) suitable for a later post… but here’s what we saw afterward. All photos taken with a tripod.

The Arena in Verona dates from Roman times:

Verona Arena

As the evening’s pop concert emptied out of the Arena di Verona, I got some ghostly photos of high heels and a bike on the Piazza Brà. ISO200, f/5, 2s.

Verona's Piazza Bra

Here’s what 0.8s will get you:

Street scene in Verona

And finally, an interesting church, well-lit at night.

Verona Church

Verona is a great city to visit, and even though you can’t shop at night, the town is abuzz with activity. Bars, events, and restaurants are packed full, spilling out onto the streets. It’s definitely worth a full weekend looking around this beautiful city!

Posted 6 years, 11 months ago at 5:20 pm.

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Toytown Photo Walk – October

I met up with the Toytown photo club and walked around Munich in the dark for a few hours. Here are a few shots I managed without any tripod.

f2 Cafe

I was going for a different angle on this red-lit mannequin.

Authority

Shooting from the hip in the dark at f/2…

From the hip

Eisbach surfers! I played with the strobe effect of my Nikon D90’s built-in flash. Next time I’ll bring a tripod and my SB600, turn down the ISO, and pump up the flash. That should blow out the orange highlights from the d*mn sodium vapor lights. I am too lazy for flash gels and a white card, heh.

Eisbach Surfing - Strobe Effect

That’s all for today!

Posted 6 years, 11 months ago at 12:40 pm.

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KL’s Petronas Towers

It is with a heavy heart and a great deal of joy that I write this post about July 25th, 2010. It’s now the following day, and I’m in a Thai Airways 747 on the way back to Munich – the end of my around-the-world trip.

I’ve had an amazing almost-three-months, and learned more in this time than I’d ever dreamed I would. At the same time, I’m looking forward to my couch, a bit more predictability in my life, and being free from my (self-imposed) goal of writing a blog post each day during the trip.

Well, let’s not dally and get all sentimental. I promised you the Petronas Towers – at 452m, the tallest buildings in the world until Taipei 101 took that crown in 2004.

KL's Petronas twin towers

To ascend the towers, you must get a free ticket early in the morning in the base of Tower 1. I was in line at 7:30. Tickets were given out starting from 8:30, although it was 9:45 before I got to the front of the line. Max 5 tickets per person! I have to say, the view from the bridge between the towers (which is as high as you can go) was a bit disappointing. I’ll have a few shots of that later.

First, some amazing graffiti that I saw near a train station.

Cool graffiti in Kuala Lumpur

Petaling Street market is not just a place for hawkers to rip off tourists with a plethora of fake handbags. It’s also a place for locals to socialize.

Locals in Petaling Street market

Back to the towers. My ticket was for the last available time, 6:30pm. While waiting I checked out the displays in the lobby. I love the warning about lightning (when they explain that you are much safer inside a metal tower / Faraday cage).

Never be the tallest, nor the wettest when lightning is about as you will be the path of least resistance for the electricity of lightning current to be discharged over your surface. This will not be good for you.

I also saw someone making a handheld-cam video of the Petronas oil company advertising video that we saw prior to boarding the elevator. That cracked me up. Will this ghetto “Seinfeld style” cap of a 5-minute Petronas commercial be out in the street market DVD shops soon, or what?

Here’s the view from the bridge, which is about 1/3 of the way up the buildings at 170 meters.

View of KLCC  (City Centre) park from the Petronas Towers

Trust me on this one: don’t waste your time standing in line at 7:30am. Even if it hadn’t been raining, the view is not that great, and half of what you could otherwise see is blocked by the buildings themselves.

Spend the money to go up KL tower, which (although not as TALL) is actually higher, because it starts on a hill. Plus the viewing area is near the top, instead of being just 1/3 of the way up. You get a 360° view… which includes the Petronas towers. The beautiful twin towers are much better seen from a distance, rather than seeing the distance from them!

Rain streaking the window of the Petronas Towers viewing bridge

So. Here I am on a plane headed toward Munich. I can’t even begin to explain how much I learned, and what a valuable experience this was for me on about fourteen different levels. I’ve made a few friends that I still keep in touch with months later. And I can’t wait to go back to many of the great places I’ve touched on in my brief around-the-world adventure!

Rest assured, there will be a lot more blog posts about this trip and others. But I’ll probably revert to my normal format of a couple posts a week, instead of one every day. Have you enjoyed the ride? What do you want to see more of? Please let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best!

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 3:46 pm.

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Kuala Lumpur Streets

I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur (affectionately known as KL) several times before. But I never took any street photos, and never made it up the Petronas twin towers (the tallest buildings in the world, 1998-2004). On July 24th, I took care of the first of those goals. Let’s start with fruit!

Various fruits that Westerners have probably never heard of like rambutan and durian

Here’s the Royal Selangor Club, where the Hash House Harriers were born in 1938 – ushering in a worldwide revolution in drunken running around ever-changing mystery courses. The name refers to the wing where the participating Colonial British bunked, the “Hash House.”

The private Selangor Club where the Hash House Harriers started

Cool buildings around Merdeka Square, with the KL Tower in the background.

Merdeka Square in KL

Everywhere in the world, people are fascinated by Barack Obama!

Barack Obama, Malay graffiti-style

Corn in Cup is awesome. This is definitely a favorite Malaysian snack food! Plus, a good view of what many of the local Muslim women are wearing.

Corn in Cup - YYYESS!

KL is not lacking in beggars with outstretched arms and McDonald’s cups.

Begging the streets of Kuala Lumpur

What was I saying about Barack Obama earlier…?

Barack Obama on a $100 bill

Mmm, chestnuts.

Freshly roasted street chestnuts

Asia is all about shopping. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Malaysia: shopping malls are massive, and double as social centers, packed with restaurants. Tourists and locals alike pack malls, hawker centers, and street markets day in and day out.

Shopping indecision on Petaling Street

Here’s a view down the (food-oriented) side street of the Petaling Street night market in Chinatown.

Petaling Street Night Market

Tomorrow I’ll revisit the second goal: the stunning, steel-clad Petronas twin towers!

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 3:33 am.

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Downtown Siem Reap

On July 18th I flew from Singapore to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Priority #1: relaxing to recover from a rather travel-weary state. Siem Reap was just what the doctor ordered!

My hotel (Angkor Spirit Palace) is quite nice, for the $20/night I paid via hotels.com. There were a few blips in the description: I had to argue for the complimentary breakfast, my room lacks the promised safe, and (contrary to the description) there is no whale-watching onsite. Shocker!

For the afternoon I headed into town by the hotel’s complimentary tuk-tuk. Here’s what I found around the Old Market. Cellphones are everywhere in the world, even in the poorest of nations:

Mother and daughter with cell phone in Siem Reap

You’ve gotta love some of the restaurant names in Cambodia. The fine print: “Don’t serve dog,cat,rat,wrm. Died in, 1999.”

Siem Reap's "Dead Fish Tower"

I haven’t seen any 7-Eleven’s here in Cambodia. But they have the next best thing, the 6-Eleven! Note the blurry scooter with a whole family riding on it.

It's the infamous 6-Eleven!

Well, just wait a few seconds and another fully-loaded scooter will come by. Then I can get a better focus on what would break about eighteen laws in most Western countries.

How many people can you fit on one motorbike? The answer is five.

I’ll cap today with a shot demonstrating the short depth-of-field of the 35mm f/2 lens. Even on that first taco, only half the cilantro is in focus!

Viva Carne Asada Tacos!

I can recommend Viva as decent Mexican. Especially considering it’s about as far away from Mexico as you can get. More authentic than anything I’ve ever tried in Germany! Plus, you just can’t beat $0.50 USD draft Angkor beer. Which is the standard price all along Siem Reap’s “Pub Street.” So far, an awesome (and very relaxing) experience!

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 3:41 pm.

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Contrasts of Singapore

This city is full of contrasts. For example, here’s one at a food center near a government-subsidized housing block (where Singaporeans can buy a house cheap, 2x in their life). I had local coffee in a bag, with a straw. I’ve since been told it’s more traditional to have it served in the condensed milk can, but how can you beat this?

Singapore - coffee in a bag

My friends, on the other hand, had McDonald’s Cafe cappuccinos and hot cocoa just next door.

Perhaps the cutest picture I've ever taken

In the afternoon of July 17th, I went to the new Marina Bay Sands casino/mall/hotel/skypark complex. To me it’s quite silly. They want to draw international visitors to spend their cash. But Singaporeans (and permanent residents) must pay a $100 SGD/day surcharge just to enter the casino. That’s basically forbidding them to gamble, because… well… gambling is bad.

Unless you are taking the d*mn foreigners’ money.

I also skipped the Skypark: $20 entry, no description of what’s up there, no food/drink/pro cameras allowed. Because then they couldn’t sell overpriced soda, snacks, and postcards!

Anyway, enough about that; it doesn’t matter because I don’t gamble and I’ve been up much taller buildings. Here are some cool contrasts I saw on the boardwalks by the bay. Tall vs small,

Which one of these two is TALL?

Some people have such high hopes for their children:

Red dress string quartet

Others are just happy if they can avoid losing them. Yes, you’ve put your child into a giant hamster wheel.

Water-hamster-wheel for children

Today was the dry run for the first-ever Youth Olympics opening ceremony. Knownst to these people but unbeknownst to me, there were flybys planned. Two pictures are worth…

"Look! Up there, in the sky!"

Opening ceremony practice for the Youth Olympics

I won’t include a shot of the jet flyby, because it’s not interesting at 35mm. But let me just say, afterburners over a city of skyscrapers… LOUD.

I’m going to save some of today’s pics for another post, because there are just too many good ones. So here’s one last shot with the f/2 at ISO3200, in the Pump Room brewpub at Clarke Quay. I thought there would be 4 beers in the sampler, but in fact there were 8!

Lots of beers in the Pump Room sampler!

What was the most beers you ever ordered with those three magical words, “the sampler, please?”

Posted 7 years, 2 months ago at 3:56 pm.

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More Bangkok Streets

On July 9th, all I did was travel, starting at 7am in Bangkok and ending at 12 midnight in Penang, Malaysia. It was one of those wearying days, so I didn’t take any photos. That means a bit of flair from yesterday’s street shots!

Juice and drinks are everywhere. This high-class shop had bottles instead of the ubiquitous bags-o-juice with a straw.

Fresh juice in Bangkok

There’s a lot of emphasis on uniforms, whether for workers or schoolchildren. Actually, I’m not sure if these are school or work uniforms!

Everyone wears a uniform in Bangkok

Traffic is a way of life. You’ll see jams at any time of day, and hear taxis / tuk-tuks complaining about it constantly.

Crazy Bangkok traffic at all times of day

I think this was one of the food stalls where you choose your ingredients and they cook for you. Although after closer inspection, I’m not sure. Might just be a fresh fruit or juice stand. Either way, there’s a plethora of good, fresh produce in Thailand! Oh yes, El Guapo, I would say you have a plethora.

Roadside food hawker in Bangkok

Thailand was a lot of fun and a lot of sweat, but somehow I’m happy to be leaving for less tourism-based areas. Up tomorrow, my first trip to Malaysia for sightseeing instead of business!

Posted 7 years, 2 months ago at 3:26 pm.

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An American in Bangkok

Jim Thompson: perhaps the most famous foreigner in all Thailand? He emigrated to the country after falling in love with it when stationed there just after WWII. Apparently he had a keen business sense, because he took Thai silk production from a cottage industry to a booming worldwide business.

In 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared while on a vacation to Malaysia. Even now, it’s unknown what happened to him – foul play, animal attack, or something else. Fortunately, his legacy lives on, as his home in Bangkok is open for visitors to see the beautiful Thai houses and Asian art collection that he assembled. I made my visit there on July 8th.

Traditional Thai houses are built on stilts to avoid damage from floods, and the ground floor around the stilts is mostly open.

Jim Thompson's House on stilts

Inside Jim Thompson’s house, no photos are allowed. But the excellent guided tour does explain a lot about this famous expat and his very original home (built from several old houses that he reassembled here). I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Bangkok!

Main entrance to Jim Thompson's House

Now for a street photo: this one was just too good for me to resist posting.

Fans and toys for sale!

The road where I stayed (Nana Soi 4) had lots of bars, where perplexingly hot and young women would talk to just about anyone. I wonder why?

Seedy bar in Bangkok

I was a little bothered by the obvious sex industry. But what can one do, other than avoid those bars. It’s frustrating that the low income society has driven women to this in order to support their families and children. So, visit Cabbages and Condoms and hope for a better future.

That’s all for today’s Bangkok adventures. Tomorrow, a day of travel – so I’ll show some more street shots!

Posted 7 years, 2 months ago at 3:07 pm.

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